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Hair Replacement Systems: What Are They & Do They Work?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 03/08/2021

Updated 04/29/2024

Losing your hair is scary, and when you realize it’s happening, you might enter full-on panic mode. 

Hair loss in men is quite common, but that doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t help that the sheer volume of “solutions” marketed online makes knowing what treatments might be effective for you extra confusing. 

Hair replacement systems are one such solution. 

They’re a legitimate camouflage method of treating hair loss, but may not be right for everyone.

For those new to the world of hair loss treatments, the phrase “non-surgical hair replacement systems” can be puzzling. What exactly are we talking about here? 

Put simply, non-surgical hair replacement systems are the toupees of old. They’re wigs. But these are not your grandpa’s hair pieces. Masking hair loss has come a long way. 

In olden times, one man’s hair piece was likely quite similar, if not the same, to the next man’s — especially if they bought them at the same store. 

These toupees were used to cover balding areas, and what natural hair remained would be combed over the wigs for hair loss to conceal it as much as possible. 

Now, it’s a different ballgame entirely.

Men struggling with hair loss can get custom-fitted for a hair piece, made with either synthetic or human hair. 

And there are numerous types of hair replacement systems, differentiated largely by what material makes up the base of the system.

Lace-front hair replacement systems are considered ideal, because fine lace is used to soften the hair line. Where the hair ends at the hairline, the lace is almost invisible, giving the hair piece a more natural look.

Polyurethane hair replacement systems use super thin polyurethane designed to be undetectable both to the touch and to the eye. 

Many hair pieces use a combination of polyurethane and lace, as well as silicon to mimic the appearance of skin.

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How much you can expect to spend on a men’s hair replacement system depends on the materials, hair, and construction used to make the piece. 

Some methods are so complex they can take six months to create the system properly — and the costs usually reflect this. 

In cases like these, where a custom plaster mold is made of your scalp before human hair is hand tied into the system, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars.

In short, the more you spend, the more natural the hair system tends to look and the longer it lasts. 

Hand-tied human hair moves more naturally and allows for more styling options, but you’ll pay more for it — thousands of dollars, in some cases.

Where standard one-hair-piece-fits-all styles may last three to six months, custom made human hair wigs can last several years.

The downside to even the priciest hair replacement systems is they may not be comfortable, causing itching or dermatitis.

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Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Non-surgical hair replacement systems aren’t for everyone. Ideally, it’d be great to have your natural hair back, right? 

While that may not be entirely possible, there are treatments for male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, that could, at minimum, slow your hair loss. 

Finasteride is an oral medication that blocks the male hormone (androgen) responsible for hair loss in men who are genetically predisposed. 

It can promote hair growth and prevent further hair loss, according to scientific research. For the most part, it’s well tolerated, though some sexual side effects can occur. If you’re considering this medical treatment, a healthcare professional can help you weigh the risks and benefits.

Topical minoxidil is a hair loss treatment you apply to your head. The positive effects of this medication have been documented in scientific studies, and it’s approved by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.

Surgery is another alternative to hair replacement systems. 

Hair transplants, where hair is physically removed from a densely covered area on your body to the balding area on your body, is effective but invasive, and can cause scarring.

Micropigmentation — or tattooing of the scalp — is also considered a surgical hair loss treatment. These tattoos can fade with time and do not account for graying of the hair later in life.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Non-surgical hair replacement systems for men have come a long way in the past few decades. 

For a few thousand dollars, you can likely get a very natural looking hair piece that allows you to swim and style your hair, and do all of the things you once took for granted. 

But these don’t feel like a solution for everyone.

Chatting with your healthcare provider can help you determine if medical treatments for hair loss might be a viable alternative for you, if you’ve decided a hair replacement system is not the way to go.

5 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. American Hair Loss Council. (2019, Oct.) Expert advice for men suffering from hair loss. Retrieved from https://ahlc.org/mens-hair-loss-solutions/
  2. Wake, G. (2007) Explaining hair replacement (non-surgical). The Trichological Society. Retrieved from https://www.hairscientists.org/hair-and-scalp-conditions/explaining-hair-replacement-non-surgical-by-graham-wake-msc-bsc-mtts
  3. Saed, S. et, al. (2016, Dec.) Hair camouflage: A comprehensive review. International Journal of Womens Dermatology. 2(4): 122-127. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418894/
  4. McClellan, K., Markham, A. (1999, Jan.) Finasteride: A review of its use in male pattern hair loss. Drugs. 57(1): 111-26. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/
  5. Suchonwanit, P., et. al. (2019) Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: A review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13: 2777-2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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